Translated by Atefeh Rezvan-Nia
Iran’s Department of the Environment (DOE) will withdraw all complaints filed against any critical individual or organization by former officials and welcomes constructive criticism, said Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of DOE, on Friday.
In a meeting with representatives of environmental NGOs, health, safety and environment (HSE) organizations and scientific and research associations of Golestan province, Ebtekar said DOE must not repeat past mistakes and must pave the way for people’s contribution to environmental protection, IRNA reported.
She noted that her department will support all critical NGOs and associations active in Iran, as they play a significant role in environmental protection.
“We support our critics, if they have fair criticisms against us,” she said, adding that critical environmental journalists should feel safe in Iran and must not face lawsuits for their views.
Ebtekar said the current government aims to increase people’s participations in different fields.
“The government aims to increase the participation of activists and intellectuals, and is open to criticisms,” she said, adding that a civil society oversees state organizations because when there is silence, usually no work is getting done.
The DOE chief insisted on improving the culture of environmental preservation in the country and said NGOs can play an important role in this regard.
“Iran is facing serious environmental challenges, because of which the government called for increasing environmental programs,” she said, noting that President Hassan Rouhani has obliged governors to provide citizens with an opportunity to participate in environmental protection programs.
Strong family bonds vital
Translated by Leila Imani
Good and healthy relations among members of a family will help reduce people’s interest in social networks, said a psychologist.
Afsaneh Vakili added that a decline in the size of families and the pressure of earning livelihood have created a wedge among members of a family.
She noted that people don’t have enough time to spend with each other and this helps increase the attraction of Internet and social networks, IRNA reported.
Vakili emphasized that reinforcing the institution of family will help protect people from isolation and loneliness, and fulfill their emotional needs.
The psychologist said this will persuade people to make the best use of Internet and increase their knowledge about various functions of social networks.
She noted that sometimes social networks connect unfamiliar persons and this paves the way for the exchange of untruthful and misleading information.
“There is no argument and dispute in social networks and this makes members feel more tranquility because they assume their networks’ friends understand and sympathize with them,” she said.
Vakili noted that parents and educational and social institutions should provide youths with adequate training to improve their knowledge about the functions of social networks and reduce harm associated with any inappropriate use.
The idea behind social networking is to enable us to have better contacts with friends and family, advertise establishments, artists or products, and connect with new people. Social networking has without a doubt contributed to many positive things, but is it also affecting us negatively.
Social networking sites are here to stay and already they have changed the way people experience, think, interact, share opinions, make friends and even vote. But it’s time we reconsider some of our rapidly shaping social-networking habits before we lose ourselves in this mayhem.
Fire destroys ancient Tibetan town
A fire that raged for nearly 10 hours razed an ancient Tibetan town in southwest China that’s popular with tourists, burning down hundreds of buildings after fire engines failed to get onto the narrow streets, state media and witnesses said.
There was no immediate report of any casualties and the cause of the fire was not yet known. State media, citing local authorities, said the blaze started in a guesthouse and was ruled accidental, AP reported.
The fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday in the ancient Tibetan quarter of Dukezong, which dates back more than 1,000 years and is known for its preserved cobbled streets, ancient structures and Tibetan culture.
Dukezong is part of scenic Shangri-La county in Deqen prefecture.
Once called Gyaitang Zong, the county renamed itself Shangri-La in 2001, hoping to draw tourists by the reference to the mythical Himalayan land described in James Hilton’s 1933 novel.
Like hundreds of Chinese cities and counties, Shangri-La renovated its old neighborhood, Dukezong, turning it into a tourist attraction filled with shops and guesthouses.
Photos and video footage showed Dukezong and its labyrinth of houses engulfed in flames that turned the night sky red.
The fire destroyed about 242 houses and shops in Dukezong, dislocated more than 2,600 people and torched many historical artifacts, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
He Yu, a resident, said she woke to loud, explosion-like sounds to find the old town on fire.
“The fire was huge,” she said. “The wind was blowing hard, and the air was dry. I was scared because my home is a little distance away from the ancient town. It kept burning and the firefighters were there, but there was little they could do because they could not get the fire engines onto the old town’s narrow streets.”
Hunting endangers Iranian animal species
The number of animal species on the verge of extinction is rising every day in Iran due to legal and illegal overhunting.
Between 70,000 and 2 million guns are estimated to be in the hands of Iranians, the country’s Department of the Environment (DOE) has revealed recently, Asr-e Iran reported.
Experts say even 70,000 hunting guns pose a big threat to the country’s vulnerable wildlife, which indicates one in every1,000 Iranians has a hunting rifle. This is while the population of some species, including Persian leopard, is less than 1,000 in the country—only 500 Persian leopards remain in the wildlife.
While the Persian lion and Caspian tiger—Iran’s last Caspian tiger was shot by a local hunter in 1950 in northern Mazandaran province—became extinct long ago, the Persian yellow deer, bustard, black bear, Persian leopard, Persian cheetah, hawk, partridge, Blanford’s fox, Siberian crane, crocodile, dolphin and whale are some of the endangered species.
Experts fear they will become extinct in a few years, if immediate actions are not taken.
DOE and Iran’s Ministry of Defense have reached an agreement recently to ban the manufacture of hunting rifles inside the country to save at risk animal species.
The agreement is a step in the right direction for saving endangered species, though much is needed to be done to reduce the number of hunters in the country.
Environmentalists believe the sale of hunting rifles and the issuance of new hunting licenses should be totally banned in Iran.
Since hunting has no role in Iran’s economy, introducing a ban on hunting rifles will not be harmful. Only locals in certain parts of the country, which hunt for their livelihood, should receive hunting licenses. Preventing hunters from having access to bullets, by not injecting new bullets to the market for example, can help reduce hunters in the country, too.
Environmental regulations should be revised and heavy fines should be introduced for hunters who violate the laws. Hunters who kill an endangered species are fined between $3.33 and $666.6 in Iran, which is not appropriately deterrent.
Jail sentences for offensive hunters should be made mandatory.
Iran lacks enough rangers to confront the hunters. The rangers also need to be supported by the law to be able to confront hunters.
Improving the culture of saving the environment has been neglected in Iran, which should be paid more attention by organizations such as the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
Ethical codes ratified for reproductive health
Translated by Hamideh Hosseini
Chairman of Medical Ethics and Law Research Center of Shahid Beheshti Medical University announced the ratification of ethical codes related to reproductive health.
“Ethical codes regarding fertility and infertility were ratified by the Supreme Council of Medical Treatment and Heritage of Iran’s Medical Council,” Mahmoud Abbasi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“We might have problems in treating infertility, which challenge physicians and practitioners. In this process, we need ethical codes to have more reliable treatments for infertile couples.”
Abbasi hoped that ethical codes will solve the problems of reproductive healthcare, noting that there are several barriers to reproduction from embryo donation and rental womb.
“Currently, we have 3 million infertile couples in the country, whose treatment costs are astronomical,” he said.
Zam Zam is a new magazine published for youths and adolescents by the Islamic Thought Foundation.
The English magazine is a monthly targeting young readers and aiming to prepare them for facing future challenges. It features diverse articles, which cover scientific, technological and religious affairs as well as tourist attractions, art, health and current issues.
Its managing director is Mehdi Goljan and its editor-in-chief is Shaqayeq Qandehari.
Inadequate food supplies has put about 5,000 migratory swans in coastal areas of Iran’s Caspian Sea at risk of starvation. The local officials have called on people to provide the animals with food.